By Marice Richter
DALLAS (Reuters) - The wave is creating some rough waters at Texas Rangers baseball games.
The iconic fan gesture of standing and throwing arms into the air to create the appearance of a wave moving around a sports stadium, has become a serious sore point at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, a suburb of Dallas.
Both loved and loathed, the wave has Rangers officials umpiring a debate among fans and apparently pleasing no one.
A recent attempt to lightheartedly temper wave fever appeared to have misfired when angry enthusiasts accused the Rangers of trying to crush their beloved tradition.
"We were never trying to stop the wave," said Chuck Morgan, senior vice president for in-park entertainment for the Rangers. "The wave is continuing."
The latest uproar began when new messages about the wave were posted on the ballpark's video board and caught on TV cameras and broadcast across the country.
The messages were in jest, Morgan said, warning that doing the wave could throw out a rotator cuff or result in children being sold to the circus.
But some fans and viewers were outraged, and even accused the Rangers of trying to trample wavers' constitutional right of free expression.
All the Rangers were trying to do, Morgan said, was make everyone more considerate of others' feelings.
"Every time the wave starts, we get text messages, e-mails, tweets and phone calls to stop it," he said. "We were trying to send a message but we weren't trying to tell anybody they couldn't do it. As long as you don't hurt somebody, offend someone or try to hurt yourself, we don't tell anyone not to do something."
The new messages have been replaced with the old standby: "Texas hitting ... No wave zone."
No matter what the message board says, Rangers fans continue to be passionate about the wave.
"I like the wave," said Rangers fan Travis Covey. "It's part of the fun of going to the game, like the seventh inning stretch and the National Anthem. Should we try to stop those, too?"
Wave opponents said it is a distraction.
"I hate it," says Ryan Harden. "I go to watch the game not to socialize with the crowds. I've been to Yankees Stadium and Fenway Park and it wasn't done there."
The website http://www.stopthewave.net/ was created as a forum for wave opponents. T-shirts with the Stop the Wave message are available at the site.
(Edited by Karen Brooks and Greg McCune)